Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Distance casting - South African style

  • I hope you all had a truly wonderful Christmas - we had a blast this end, it's such fun with the kids, and getting back to work is a bit of a shock to the system. Watching my two girls open their stocking on Christmas morning is something that will live with me for a long time. My thanks also for the kind comments posted on this blog.

  • I have finally found some proper time to edit and process all my photos from a trip I did down to South Africa a couple of months ago - wander back through the blog and you will see how it went. What has really stayed with me is the ease with which the good rock and surf anglers down there can cast big baits and leads out, often to some extreme distances as well if the fishing calls for it. I have witnessed this kind of fishing a lot in Namibia - we have some great shore fishing around the UK, but what we do not have is lots of big fish that actually take a lot of line. And I mean a lot of line.......
  • For the "smaller" species, the guys were using mainly Shimano Trinidad 20 and 30 reels and 0.50mm (roughly 30lb) mainlines. They routinely remove any form of braking systems from their reels and instead thumb the line down through the cast. It is mightily impressive to watch as you can see in these photos. Big rods, big reels, big baits and some silly big fish at times. Awesome stuff.

  • But distance casting is obviously only relevant if you need to do so to catch fish - in these photos the guys are really whacking the rods because there is a howling onshore breeze and they need to put the baits right in the middle of a reef system that runs parallel to the shoreline.

  • What a winter we are getting so far - I can't remember the last time we had proper rain or a big south west gale (August ?), but aren't we getting some proper cold weather ? I reckon a winter like this has been due for a while and over Christmas we wrapped the kids up and spent as much time out and about as possible before hypothermia began setting in !! We were down in the Isle of Wight with my in-laws, very close to the beach, and none of us like spending all day inside doing nothing.

  • A Very Happy New Year to you all, and I hope that 2009 proves to be a good one. I know that there is a huge amount of doom and gloom around with every single newspaper and news station obsessing about the credit crunch, but it can't all be bad news can it ? I feel really positive about a lot of things in my working life and I am really looking forward to 2009, but I also feel apprehensive about certain things as well. Life is tough or tougher for a lot of people right now, but personally I reckon nothing in life is more important than family, and my personal goal is simply to continue to look after mine as best I can (and land a few big bass as well, of course !!).

  • I will start off in 2009 by taking a look back over 2008 on this blog, and picking out particular bits of fishing gear etc. that I reckon have really helped my own fishing no end - reviews and conclusions if you like. Rods, reels, lines, lures, waders etc., plus a bit of music of course, all in due course.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Happy Christmas to you all

  • A very Happy Christmas to all of you - I hope you have a fantastic break, and here's to 2009. I am going to take some time off now to be with my family, so I'll post back here in a week or so. I can not wait to spend some proper time with them all and see my two girls opening their presents on Christmas morning. This is what it's all about. I have just spent the weekend looking after my daughters while my wife was in London, and we had such a blast. You will be glad to know that I have so far managed to resist jumping up down on their Iggle Piggle or Upsy Daisy teddies......

  • I have managed to put another online photo gallery up from my latest trip over to Ireland, right at the end of November - click here to have a look at some of the photos from yet another awesome bass trip. I hope you enjoy them, and there will be plenty more to come next year I am sure.

  • Check out the brand new issue of Sea Angler magazine - look on pages 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 for another article in my modern bass fishing series. I am really pleased with the photos that their designer chose to use. Make sure to watch out for the next issue as well, for they are going for a big relaunch of the magazine, and I can't wait to see how it looks. The magazine goes from strength to strength I reckon.
  • Above is another shot from my playing around with black and white conversions - I took this on my first ever trip to what I term the "ultra remote Seychelles", and it took me a couple of looks through my files to pick this one out. Personally I am blown away by this simple photograph in black and white, but I would be interested to know what you think.

  • The photo below is also from that same trip, of my friend James holding onto a barracuda he had just nailed on a fly on the flats. An awesome angler and a very easy guy to photograph, and again, a shot that I really like in black and white - not something I would have picked put immediately, but the sunlight glowing on the tail I reckon gives a really strong "in" with one's eye.
  • Have a good one - thanks for reading this blog of mine, it means a hell of a lot to know that so many people keep checking back here to see what is going on, and the numbers keep on growing. Remember that you can also subscribe to my blog via Feedblitz on the right hand side of this page. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, 19 December 2008

New bass photo gallery online

  • I have put a new bass fishing photo gallery online - you can see it by clicking here. These are selected photos from when I was over in Ireland in September - we had generally outstanding fishing and some very cool light for photography purposes. Is it just me or have we had less grey days in the last few months than we usually do ? Suits me just fine...
  • There are loads of photos over on my website, and especially on this page here. On the right hand side of this blog page there are also some links to various online photo galleries that I have created this year. My website is currently being completely rebuilt and will go live sometime early next year. I am looking at offering various ways to purchase different kinds of prints (plus postcards, canvas prints etc.) of some of my photos, but I will not do this until I am totally happy with the end results.

  • The photo above is the kind of thing that I reckon would work really well as a big print - it is a black and white conversion of a mountain range in British Columbia (BC), towering above the Copper river where we fished and photographed for the mighty steelhead last year. Check out a load of photos right here. I always liked this shot in colour, but it also really gets to me in black and white. Basically, BC would get to anyone.

  • I noticed that over on the Aardvark McLeod website that the people we worked with over there have moved into a fantastic looking new lodge, check here for the details. I am going to do all I can to get myself back over to the west coast of Canada next year, for it is truly one of the most special places on earth, and fishing for steelhead and big Pacific salmon is about as cool as it gets. As a place to photograph, I have to stop myself hyperventilating all the time in a state of complete overexcitement !! Loads of coffee tends to do the trick.

  • The photo above is also from British Columbia - now this is one that I reckon would work really well as a really big canvas print, for these is a huge amount of detail and depth to the photo that might not be properly visible here on the blog. I am sold on the merits of a shot like this in black and white. If I am feeling flush after Christmas I might pull the trigger and order a big canvas print for us here at home in Plymouth - my wife is not really into shots of fish or extreme metal (women eh ??!!), but she loves this photo. It is now up to me to keep looking harder and harder for shots like this when I am out and about. Just as fishing is a never ending learning curve, so I am continuing to find new things out about the art of photography that really keep me buzzed up. The only problem is that my brain goes into such overdrive (yes, I still have a brain after all my younger years' headbanging) that I keep waking up at silly o'clock times in the morning. As above, coffee is the key.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Winter bass fishing - what do we do ?

  • Now that we are properly into winter, what does the bass junkie do ? On a personal level, I used to spend virtually all my fishing time in the winter chasing cod - collecting bait, fishing, surviving on very little sleep, fishing again, crabbing at strange hours, and trying a few rigs up. And then fishing again - a lot !! Times have changed though. But what are our options if we want to carry on chasing bass through the colder months ?

  • Well, to be perfectly honest, I am not completely sure of all our options - there always seem to be bass around somewhere in the south west, and especially up the estuaries (bear in mind I am talking about shore fishing here). We used to sometimes catch schoolie bass in almost plague proportions when we were cod fishing in very rough seas just inside the Camel estuary (and especially off Flat Rock and Stepper Point), and I know of some really big bass caught when guys are flounder fishing. So it is not as if every single bass does a disappearing act until later on in the spring !!

  • So we know that bass are a distinct possibility when fishing with baits, and I know guys who love this time of year for going after big bass. But what about on the lures ? A tougher time without question, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is worth a few attempts with these soft plastics that you can fish on jigs, bouncing them along the bottom. It is not going to be a bumper time of year on them, but I would guess that a few of us might get the odd surprise from time to time.............

  • The most famous place for "depths of winter" bass fishing has to be the south west of Ireland (and specifically Kerry and Dingle), where the local bass freaks can experience some staggeringly good fishing on the right conditions. All the tourists and visiting anglers have long gone home, but when they get the correct onshore conditions into January and February especially, I know of a few guys who do really well when bait fishing for the bass - the Irish strands are of course the stuff of bass fishing legend, and sometime soon I simply have to get myself over to the south west to experience it. I reckon that classic fishing could look very cool in black and white as well.

  • It is a real punt to go that far for winter bass fishing, for you are gambling with the weather in a big way, but it has to be worth it just for the chance to stand thigh deep in surf, waiting for a bite, and with nobody else around. If you are interested, the person I would contact can be found right here - Kevin is a professional shore fishing guide in Kerry, and he just happens to be a serious bass junkie. Check out some photos of him fishing right here. We never hear about a lot of their Irish winter bass fishing, but it can be very good.

  • As for the south east coast of Ireland that I am head over heels in love with (the country as whole in fact), well it does seem that they can catch bass all year round, depending on conditions of course - on baits and on lures. I am sure you can sense from this post that I have a lifetime of information still to absorb on bass fishing, and then I could probably live again and still be left with more to learn. But isn't that what makes fishing such a profoundly absorbing sport ? I stand by what I have always said - walk away from the angler who professes to know it all.......

  • I hope you like the two black and white bass photos here - they are such a magnificent species and in my view they deserve to be shown off in glorious colour. But I have stumbled on the odd shot in my (vast and ever growing !!) photo library that has jumped at me with my black and white eyes on. The tail shot especially is one I really like far more in black and white than in colour.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Devil invented Christmas shopping

  • This morning I had to head into Plymouth city centre with my wife and two girls to buy some Christmas presents - within five minutes I knew I was in a bit of a temper and I caught myself scowling as well, ostensibly because I had to go into a clothes shop and look like I was really interested in the clothes my wife was trying on. One eye was on the girls to make sure they did not trash the shop, and one eye was on the door for a fast escape once I was done. Patience is not something I am associated with when it comes to going into town, and especially when it is anything to do with clothes !! But we got the job done and I was able to escape back home......

  • Shopping online was invented for people like me - no crowds, no cars, no parking, and no clothes shops. OK, so the parcels always seem to be delivered when you are out, but it's better than having to go anywhere near a shop. If only all shops were like a good fishing tackle shop.

  • I can't believe how close to Christmas it is though - where on earth has this year been and gone ? Time seems to go so fast. At the beginning of January I will start the new year off by reviewing a load of stuff that I have been using this past year - rods, reels, lures, fishing clothing etc. There is plenty to talk about that I hope might prove useful to some of you.

  • Below are another bunch of black and white photos that I have been messing around with - later on this week I will be able to get some recent bass fishing galleries up on here, in full and glorious colour I assure you, but this black and white stuff has really grabbed me at the moment. I am going to keep at it and then try pushing some material out there next year to a few publications that I reckon might be interested to try something a little different.
  • Venezuela again - in my mind these shots of the local kids you can see above and below work properly in black and white, indeed I far prefer the look to the original colour ones I shot. In my mind they now work properly.
  • Above are some youngsters from Uganda - it breaks my heart to see such levels of poverty, and I always make sure to find a way of asking if they mind me taking their photograph. The great thing about digital photography is that you can usually raise a delightful smile when you show them a photo on the back of the camera.

  • This photo above is of Ian Gordon spey casting out in Norway on the river Namsen. The guy can cast big time and I love it in black and white. What you might not be able to see on a small JPEG here are all the water droplets flying up from the line that now really show up well in black and white. The bridge was what initially got me interested in photographing Ian in this position.
  • I have found it really interesting that a lot of fly fishing gear shots seem to work well in black and white - even the really modern stuff like the reel you can see above, a Hardy Zane. I love shooting fly fishing gear anyway as the compositions are usually very visible in my mind, but there seems to be a whole different aspect to it here that I am really liking.

Monday, 15 December 2008

A few nice fish around

  • There were a few decent fish caught over the weekend down here, so I guess that big southerly wind we had on Friday night did a bit of good. It played havoc though with Del over in the Isles of Scilly, but even so he landed a few mullet up to 5lbs - the bigger fish were there, but with so many maggots coming out of the weed he was unable to bring them larger fish within casting range. Still, a 5lb mullet would do me just fine !!

  • A friend of mine landed a 28lb conger eel for a mate of his on a rock mark in South Devon that I used to fish for bull huss a lot, with some success as well - I had them to just under 14lbs off there myself, and I saw them landed to over 15lbs. My mate told me he nearly got washed in landing the eel, and they lost a bigger fish as well. Take it easy on those rocks when a bit swell is running.

  • I also heard of a 12lb thornback ray and a 12lb plus cod from the River Tamar - it can be a frustrating and difficult place to fish at times, but the Tamar has a long history of chucking up decent fish. Virtually all my best shore caught cod came from Devil's Point at the mouth of the Tamar, fishing usually an hour and a half either side of low water on all sizes of tide. I never found any kind of pattern to catching cod in the Tamar, and it was more a case of if you could hold your bait out there in the tide, you were in with a shout of a decent fish. Daytime, night time, small tides, big tides, rough weather, flat calm weather, rain sunshine, doesn't matter - peeler crab always worked for me for the cod, with prawns killing for the thornbacks, but the prawns catch the cod as well.

  • Flounder fishing has never been my thing, but the guys have been catching some nice fish. A friend of mine has had two flounders of 3lb 12oz already, plus numerous other big ones, and the signs seem to be good for the Kingsbridge estuary especially to switch on sometime very soon. Good to hear that the famous River Teign has been producing so many quality flounder again.

  • Below are a few more examples of some black and white photographs that I have been playing around with. Any comments are more than welcome, and please bear in mind that I am not always sure how these low-res JPEGs look on other computer screens - I work on calibrated screens in my office here, and there is always a degree of loss of detail when you down-res an image to put on the internet. They look very good on my screens (but then I would say that !!) at full size, so please bear that in mind when you look at them.

  • I photographed this stunning girl in southern India a few years ago, in a local village close to where we were fishing for mahseer (see here for some photos) - I have never seen anybody look through a lens with such ease and confidence.

  • The above photo was shot in Zambia when we were chasing the outrageous tigerfish on the fly - what a fish, what a place. A bunch of photos from that trip are here. It's those skies that work for me here.
  • This kid was fishing with a dropnet off the local pier on Los Roques, an archipelago off the coast of Venezuela. I tend to obviously major on shooting fishing, but I also like to look around for different photos when I can. See a bunch of stuff from Los Roques here.

  • We blew yet another tyre heading back to Kampala in Uganda, after smashing the Nile perch at Murchison Falls in a major way. A bunch of locals gathered around to see what on earth a couple of white guys were doing with a dusty Landrover, a spare tyre and a jack. The kid you see above just looked so serene and calm. See here for more photos.
  • I am not completely sure whether fishing gear works in black and white yet, but I do really like the photo above that was shot out in Canada a few months ago. A very simple composition, but something about the angles always worked in my head.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Track this stunning fishing book down

  • I received a truly wonderful book in the post yesterday, all the way from Tasmania, and it is seriously worth getting hold of if beautiful fly fishing books are your kind of thing. This publication is one hell of an achievement and I commend the guys involved - especially the photographer Brad Harris who works for an Australian fly fishing magazine that I do a bit of freelance work for, the stunning FlyLife.

  • Brad is a proper photographer, and this exceptional book is a glorious look at the world class fly fishing for trout right through a season down in Tasmania - it looks like one fantastic place, and Brad has done real justice to a subject with which he obviously is head over in heels in love with. This is what I so like about fishing, the fact that there are so many of us out there who are genuinely in love with "our" sport. Is there anything better ? (apart from extreme metal of course !!)

  • I am not sure about getting hold of this book over here in the UK yet, but I know you can order a copy right here. It is really worth doing so - order one for yourself, and then order another one to give away as a present. This book is that good. There is a website devoted to the book, click here to have a look.

  • There are few better things to photograph in the world of fishing than wild fly fishing for trout, and it looks like Tasmania is another place to put on my list of "have to go there". Check here for a small selection of my own fly fishing photos. Brad Harris is one of the guys whose work I really admire, and it is also worth tracking down the magazine FlyLife that he works for.

  • And my thanks to the guys who have posted comments on my previous post about me playing around with black and white photography - more than kind and I really appreciate all the comments. It is only a bit of a sideline interest to what I do day to day at the moment, but I am enjoying exploring what makes a decent black and white photo, and also what does not. Throughout my career so far I have always been looking for a colour photo when I am out shooting, but perhaps I need to see with different eyes ?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Fishing in black and white

  • As a photographer, I see the world in colour - having had no formal photography tuition or anything like that, I have no history with things like black and white, but as a medium is has begun to interest me a lot more. I love learning new things, and playing around with a bit of black and white photography is forcing me to think about completely different aspects to a photograph.

  • Below are a few examples of some stuff I have been playing around with - I am not sure where this might go, but I have a few ideas, and it would be interesting to see where fishing in black and white could be taken......
  • Any thoughts or comments are more than welcome. Fishing is such a colourful, vibrant thing to be involved with and it might seem a bit strange to take such wonderful colours out of a photo, but I reckon it can look very cool indeed with the right photo. I suppose about the most outstanding black and white fishing based photography that I have recently seen is of course in the many striking Simms adverts, shot by a photographer called Tibor Nemeth. Now that is some proper black and white stuff to aspire to !!

  • And as I was typing this blog, I got a call from my mate Del (better known as Trotter) over in the Isles of Scilly - he was trying to keep calm as a load of big mullet were mooching around. "Just checking things out" were his words, but I don't fancy the chances of his taxi clients getting picked up later this afternoon. Trotter said there was loads of rotten weed around and the weather forecast is looking really good for him. I am going to try and get over there in January to photograph some of this outstanding fishing. I also have a feeling I might hear of a nice mullet or two over the next few days.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Great day fly fishing yesterday

  • Just look at those big blue winter skies that greeted Nick Hart and I yesterday as we began shooting a feature for Trout Fisherman magazine up at Exe Valley fishery - wow !! Time to whack on the polarising filter and get weird and wonderful with my 16-35mm lens. Above is a shot of Nick setting up for the fishing with a Hardy Demon rod and reel - the Demon reels are always good to photograph, and I know that Nick really likes using them for a lot of his fishing. Being able to so easily change lines is a real bonus in fly fishing.

  • And then we got all kinds of weather, from big blue skies and relatively calm conditions through to torrential rain and driving winds. About the only thing missing for us yesterday was a bit of snow. Challenging for the both of us, but ultimately very rewarding to shoot and fish in such varied and interesting light.

  • You can see the rain coming in the photo above, but when you get big black clouds lit up by the sun, it often makes a very cool photo. Nick is bringing another rainbow trout to the net for the obligatory photo call. A few minutes later and I was taking pictures from underneath a big golf umbrella.....

  • If you are up that way, make sure to check out not only Exe Valley fishery, but the extremely well stocked and far too tempting Hart Fly Shop that is slap bang next to the lakes. I succumbed and bought myself a fleece in there yesterday. They also have a very good online store here.

  • Talking of Trout Fisherman magazine, have a look in the current issue at pages 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 for a winter stillwater feature that Nick and I did - there are also some mighty big blue winter skies in there as well. I know it is tougher for the fishing, but from my point of view I'll take them as much as we are given them.

  • I have recently added a way that you can subscribe to this blog via email updates - if this is helpful to you, fill out the "Email Subscriptions" box on the right hand side of this page, and my ramblings will be delivered right to your Inbox. Is this a good thing ? I will let you decide.....

Monday, 8 December 2008

Stunning winter weather

  • The weekend was about the most beautiful weather imaginable for December, and I have rarely seen the north coast of Cornwall looking so good (we certainly got no days like this in the summer !!). Friday was a howling west/northwest wind that was snorting into the Camel estuary, giving awesome conditions for the numerous windsurfers and wake-boarders who were out around the famous Doom Bar. And then on Saturday and Sunday there was hardly a breath of wind, with big blue skies and no clouds - the swell died right off and my two girls had a blast playing on the virtually deserted beaches, plus Jess could chase sea gulls for hours. A perfect weekend, especially with a round of golf at Trevose. I also reckon I found a couple of potentially interesting places to try for bass.......

  • I heard from Graham over in Ireland, and he nailed five bass yesterday up to about 5lbs - great fishing, and all the fish came on these MegaBass XLayer soft plastic lures, on very neap tides. Modern hi-tech lures like these do not exactly come cheap, but they are proving to be lethally effective for the bass. You can get hold of them right here. It seems like the bassing over these has not slowed down at all.

  • Monday morning could not pass without a decent dose of proper black metal to get you through. Check out a great black metal band from Germany called Paragon Belial - listen to some tracks here. I love coming across some of the more obscure metal bands out there, and the actual CD can be hard to track down. I got mine here. This is a website worth noting down if metal is your thing. I love the album artwork below. Classic extreme metal.

  • Another great thing for a winter Monday morning is the news that there is a new video out out from the band who has in my mind released the metal album of the year (see here). Check out the video to the song "The Watcher" here, off Enslaved's very recent masterpiece "Vertebrae". Awesome video, and what a truly outstanding metal album - I am loving it that much that I am actually trying to limit the amount I listen to it for fear of overplaying it. Vertebrae seriously is that good. This one gets inside your skull and will not let go.

  • I am out photographing with Nick Hart tomorrow, for a Trout Fisherman feature. The weather forecast continues to look good, so hopefully we might get those big blue skies for the shoot. There is something very cool indeed about being out and about when the winter weather is showing us just how fantastic this country can look.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Front cover in Germany

  • I have been working on a freelance basis for the big German fishing magazine Blinker for some time now, and above is my first front cover with them - it is of Nick Hart holding a well-conditioned rainbow trout. I reckon the photo works well on the cover and I am always over the moon to get a cover. Blinker has a huge circulation throughout parts of Europe and it is always full of really good looking articles - I wish I could understand them as I reckon I could learn a lot, but my German is seriously non-existent !!

  • This shore fishing for bass with soft plastics has got me really intrigued, and I have already been looking around for different lures and jig heads. Just how easy is it to spend too much money on our fishing ? I reckon Graham, Patrick and Cian are going to land some truly monster bass right through the winter if they get the right conditions over in Ireland, and I would bet that the majority are going to come on the plastics. Not that hard lures are suddenly not lethally effective (of course they can be), more that a couple of locations they are fishing demand some different tactics. I truly believe that they have the potential for awesome bass fishing right through the year, taking into account the Irish close season of course.

  • Sometime next week I will do my best to get a couple of photo galleries up here from my September and November Irish bass trips - I came away with plenty of photos that I need to illustrate my articles etc. Fishing can be such a visually stunning thing to do, and most times I consider what I do to be the best job in the world - ok, so not every day is going to go great, but just having the chance to work around the best sport in the world is a privilege, and my focus is on making it look better and better all the time.

  • Have a good weekend all, I am off over to north Cornwall with my family to spend a weekend walking, golfing (yes !!) and messing around on the beach - whatever the weather, we don't care, my two girls have got full waterproofs and they love being out and about. Jess can chase seagulls for hours on end. I might also get the chance to check out a couple of potential bass marks I have been thinking about, under the pretext of "let's walk this way, it looks nice" sort of thing. You always need that fishing head on.....

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Irish bass fishing - some thoughts

  • I continue to be amazed at the overall quality of the shore fishing over in Ireland - but perhaps what amazes me the most is that I still meet fishermen who almost don't want to believe how good it can be. Nowhere on earth offers good fishing all the time, but if you get the conditions close to right and do your research, then Ireland can offer some truly outstanding shore fishing for a huge variety of species. And you will catch a lot more if you are prepared to work hard and walk/hike a lot.

  • I am aware of some very good bass fishing in certain areas of Europe, such as the Channel Islands (awesome, go there), France and Spain, but I can only speak from personal experience when I say that so far I have yet come across anywhere that offers such consistently incredible shore fishing for bass as Ireland's somewhat "secret" and little-known south east corner. Ireland overall is an incredible place to visit, and in my mind the bass fishing is the pinnacle of it all.

  • Above is a shot of my mate Graham Hill with another quality bass that we caught the other day - the sun was just creeping over the hills to our right, and I used a large aperture on my 16-35mm lens to really make the head of the fish stand out in the frame. It's the kind of shot that a magazine could easily use over two pages, with the text running down the right side....

  • Using direct flash is something you can't really avoid when photographing fish in the pitch black, but you always run the slight risk with a reflective fish like the bass of losing a bit of detail in the flanks. Direct flash is a very harsh light, but when an incredible fish like Tom's 11lb monster comes out on the first morning, I'll use all the flash I need to try and make a half-decent shot. What a perfect start it was to another outstanding trip over there. I would hazard a guess that Tom is still in a state of shock back home in Frankfurt !!

  • Barely a cloud in the November sky as Patrick Gallagher fishes for bass with modern soft plastic lures - without a doubt it is the French bass anglers who are the most experienced at fishing these methods, and we have a lot to learn about it, but the guys I know are doing extremely well already. Fishing keeps me hooked because I am forced to learn new things all the time, and this drives me forward. We have all used soft plastics for years to nail fish like cod, pollack and coalfish, but using them for bass in very specific locations and ways is a new thing to me, and I can't wait to see how it keeps developing.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Tough last day, but what a trip......

  • Graham and I decided on a bit of a gamble today as regards the bass fishing - we knew we could probably nail a few where we have been fishing over the last few days, but I was after some different photos and we both felt like covering some more locations. Another stunning winter day, hardly a cloud in the sky, very cold, and just about perfect to be out and about it (when you've finally climbed into multiple layers). We had a few small pollack on the lures early this morning, and Graham hooked a good bass that came off, on a soft plastic lure fished right in amongst the rocks. I was fishing away and saw a bass of around 5lbs swim right below me, seemingly oblivious to my good looking Tide Minnow 120 Surf lure that had just gone right by his nose. We then fished another few different locations, but never saw another sniff of a fish - these northerly winds are great for my photos, but they have really cleared the water up and flattened the sea off so much that the bass are momentarily switched off. Who would have thought the seas could get too calm for bass fishing in winter ? Doesn't really make sense....
  • Above are a few of the soft plastic lures that we have been messing around with to great effect over the last few days. When the winds swing around, I am fully expecting the bass guys to keep on nailing big fish right through winter - I know the phone will be ringing soon with an excited Mr. Hill and the capture of another prime bunch of oversize Irish bass, and I will be left working out how on earth I can get back over here again as soon as I can. I love heading back to see my family, but I also hate leaving Ireland. Graham Hill is one of the finest blokes you could ever hope to meet and he is a complete pleasure to fish and spend time with. I cherish my fishing/photography days in Ireland more than most people could possibly imagine.

  • Our cod fishing last night did not really amount to much, but to be perfectly honest we were both completely knackered and wanted to get our heads down so that we could have another early start on the bass this morning. They do get some fantastic cod fishing around these parts, but again, we could do with some wind and rough seas to get them moving properly. But this is winter !! This morning were some of the most treacherous, icy roads I have ever driven on, but I'll take those big blue skies all day long please. Lots of coffee and thermals and I can face almost anything !!

  • Anyway, I thought another couple of different photos of Tom's magnificent 9lb 8oz bass from the other day would be worth putting up here. I know he had a bigger 11lb fish on his first morning, and I got a few nice photos, but you can always make such a special fish look a whole load better in the day time, when you don't have to chuck direct flash on them in the dark. Well done Tom, a cracking couple of days. Catch you next year ?
  • I am on the 9am Stena Line ferry back over to Fishguard tomorrow morning, and then it's about a four hour drive back home to Plymouth. I got done for speeding last time I was coming back from Ireland, so I could do without that again. What an awesome few days, but then it always is over here, however the fishing goes.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Bitterly cold, but the bass are still feeding

  • It was just Graham and I fishing this morning, and we decided it was worth a go on the crab baits - we took lure rods as well, but with a biting northerly wind and increased colour to the water, both of us felt this morning was the time to put baits down for the fish. On my first cast I had a good bite, but the fish dropped it. A little later, Graham connected with a decent fish on a rod he won in a match the other day - a Greys GRX-S bass rod. Above you can see him beaching the bass. Check out those huge skies that are a serious joy for me to use in my photos - not bad for the last day of November !!

  • Here is the result - a cracking bass weighing 8lb 8oz, glinting perfectly in the early morning sunshine. The weather continues to be stunning, and although there was not such a hard frost this morning, a far fresher northerly certainly kept the temperature right down - note the hat and gloves again. The fishing was slower today by Ireland's standards, but how often do you see an 8lb plus bass coming in ? Still pretty awesome fishing to me.

  • We did try the soft plastics today, but apart from a couple of bumps we hooked nothing on them. Not completely sure why I have to admit, but there were far less fish moving around this morning. Perhaps the cold has finally got to them a bit.....or perhaps not.

  • Above is a nice bass of 5lb that I managed to nail on a small crab bait - a typical knock-back slack, then tap, tap, thump right over kind of bass bite that was essentially unmissable (he says !!), and it gave a good scrap in the tide.

  • Here you can see the sort of peeler crab baits we were using this morning - a simple 4/0 pennel rig fished off a Varivas 3-way swivel (the lead is connected via a split-ring I put on the 3-way swivel), a short 35lb fluorocarbon hooklength,and a 4oz plain lead that can roll around in the tide and find its own resting place. Still the best all round shore fishing hooks I can find are the Varivas Big Mouth Extra pattern - get them here. All nice and easy stuff, and the bass like it just fine.

  • Graham and I are heading back out for a few hours' cod fishing over the high water this evening, and then we have made a plan to get out on the rocks tomorrow for some more lure fishing. It might be a bit of a gamble, but we are both itching to fish a certain mark on the back tide that has produced plenty of fish in the past. We shall see....

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Fantastic bass session on soft plastics

  • This morning was one of the coldest mornings I have ever fished (yes, I know your hearts are bleeding for me), but as soon as the sun came up and the tide turned, the bass came on the feed in a proper way. But those couple of hours before sun up were bitter - a biting north wind, a frost so heavy that the sand was frozen, and as many clothes on as I could wear and still fish effectively. Above is Graham kindly holding a 7lb bass of mine that I nailed on a MegaBass Xlayer soft plastic lure. Where we are fishing is working really well on these soft plastics.
  • Note that Graham is wearing a hat and gloves to fish in, tendrils of mist are coming off the water, and the hills behind are covered in a hard frost. Smashing good bass in the depths of winter is not bad at all, but to be perfectly honest, not much surprises me about the bass fishing over here in Ireland any more - it is that good. When it is firing, it is off the scale. I know how good it is, and I learn a huge amount more every single day I am here fishing with these guys. I am head over in heels in love with Ireland and its fishing - as you can probably guess from this blog.......
  • Above is Patrick bringing another nice bass in to the shore. Look at those huge blue skies !! This is the end of November and I have rarely seen weather this good at any time of year. It might be very cold, but who cares when the bass are feeding so hard.
  • Another perfect Irish bass, once again taken on a MegaBass XLayer soft plastic lure - these things work so well, and the guys over here that I fish with regularly are really getting into the ins and outs of fishing for bass with soft plastics. They have their time and place, and I have masses to learn, but they have given us the chance to smash fish when most of the open coast at the moment is flat calm, gin clear and hardly conducive to conventional lure fishing.
  • Here is Tom Hollyhock with another cracking Irish bass, to go with the two stunners he had yesterday, including that monster 11lb fish. This one above weighed 9lb 8oz, and you can guess the successful lure by now I am sure. We worked out that Tom has had three bass for a total of about 27lbs - that is some average size of fish, and I think the guy is completely blown away by what he has seen over the last couple of days. Tom flies back to Germany tomorrow, no doubt planning a return trip already.
  • This is the size and colour of MegaBass Xlayer that Tom had his 9lb 8oz bass on this morning, rigged to fish behind a jig head. They might look like a lump of fancy plastic, but there must be something about them that the bass can not resist. Anyway, I need to get ready for another go tomorrow. Awesome.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Ireland still firing for huge bass.....

  • There were a lot of bass moving around when we got to our fishing spot before first light this morning, and Tom above nailed this 11lb bass on his second cast ever in Ireland !! Well done sir, that is some fishing. You can see the joy a fish like this brings us, just check out Graham and Tom celebrating in the photo above. A fantastic bass in outstanding condition, it was hooked within twenty yards of the shoreline on a soft plastic lure. A MegaBass XLayer to be precise, fished on a jig. Second cast of the morning !!
  • Above is Tom with the same 11lb bass prior to a safe release of the fish - I watched it swim out into the main current in my headlamp. What a sight. There were some seriously big fish swirling around early this morning, but they were no pushover at all. All credit to Tom for fishing so well. I had a couple of crocodiles chase my lure with a big bow wave and then turn away at the last moment. Heart stopping stuff.
  • There was a hard frost this morning, and barely a cloud in the sky all day as you can see above. What a stunning day for the end of November. Graham, Patrick and I weighed in with a few small bass, but today was Tom's day without a doubt. I love coming to Ireland more and more. What a place. Guess how many other anglers we saw today ? Yes, you are right - none !! I reckon we walked close to 10 miles today on the hunt for bass, and we are up early again tomorrow morning to see if we can nail a few more.
  • Above is the product of Tom's third cast in Ireland - another cracking bass, again taken on a MegaBass XLayer soft plastic lure. They can be hard to track down, but you can get them from here. You can see one of the lures rigged on a jig in the photo below. The guys out here are really switching on to using soft plastic lures for their bass fishing, and they are a blast to use in the right places. I have a huge amount to learn about using soft plastics for bass fishing.